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Research Consortium Advances Understanding of Cervical Spine Injuries in Children Involved in Motor Vehicle Crashes

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New research published this month in the journal Injury finds that while fatal cervical spine injuries to children in motor vehicle crashes are rare, they are more commonly seen in girls, in children who were restrained in passenger restraints, and in children who also suffered traumatic brain injury due to the crash.

Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University Medical Center studied 6,065 children younger than 16 years old and found that only 2.9% of the fatalities involved a cervical spine injury. "This research confirms that cervical spine injuries are no more common in fatal crashes than they are in non-fatal crashes involving children," explained Michael Nance, M.D., Director of the Pediatric Trauma Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a co-author of the study. "Interestingly, we found no association between fatal cervical spine injuries and vehicle type or model year, the speed or direction of the collision impact, or the child's age or seating position when the crash occurred."

This study represents the first time a research team has used a linked version of two previously independent data sets from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to enable in-depth analysis of the relationship between crash characteristics such as speed or vehicle type, and type of injury (including CSI) for fatally injured children. The two large national mortality databases used were the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and Multiple Cause-of-Death (MCOD) datasets.

"Being able to use this merged set of data allowed us to study relatively rare injuries in larger numbers," said Nance. "For the vast majority of crashes, vehicle and child restraints reduce the risk of death and most serious injuries. The findings point to the importance of the continued work aimed at preventing all serious injuries for children in vehicle or child restraints who are in crashes. Our work through The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies provides the unique opportunity to bring together the best of pediatrics, engineering, and industry to conduct science and translate it into improved capability of child anthropomorphic test dummies to predict cervical spine injuries."

Funding for this original research was provided by The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS). CChIPS is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) housed at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. CChIPS is unique among the more than 40 I/UCRC centers, as the only one focused on pediatric injury prevention. Member organizations supporting this work include Britax Child Safety Inc., Dorel Juvenile Group Inc., Ford Motor Company, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nissan Technical Center North America, Inc., State Farm Insurance Companies, TK Holdings Inc., Toyota Motor North America Inc. and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia:

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking third in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit

About The National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers

The National Science Foundation's Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program develops long-term partnerships among industry, academe and government. The centers are catalyzed by a small investment from the NSF and are primarily supported by industry center members, with NSF taking a supporting role in their development and evolution. Each center is established to conduct research that is of interest to both the industry and the center. An I/UCRC contributes to the Nation's research infrastructure base and enhances the intellectual capacity of the engineering and science workforce through the integration of research and education.

    Dana Mortensen

SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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